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Lions, Lionesses pull together in Hancock

August 11, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - The motto of the Hancock Lions Club is "We Serve." The Hancock Lioness Club says "We Serve Too."

The two new presidents of those organizations - Mary Stains-Ecker and Jack O. Hill Jr. - are already working together so their groups' good works can be maximized within the community.

"I have been a Lioness a long time," said Stains-Ecker, who spent 20 years in the Hagerstown Lioness Club before joining the Hancock club in the 1990s. She is also a member of the Williamsport Lions Club with her husband, Joe Ecker, whom she married a year ago when both were 82 years old.

As district coordinator of Lioness clubs for 15 years, Stains-Ecker said she holds a dubious distinction. "There were 15 Lioness clubs when I started and now there are three," she said. "What a record."

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Some Lioness clubs, like the 37-member Hancock group, want to stay separate. The 87 members of the Hagerstown Lioness Club feel the same way, Stains-Ecker said. Some others have combined with Lions clubs

Hill said he is glad the Lions and Lionesses get along so well in Hancock. "We do work well together," he said, noting the Aug. 8 joint picnic that both attended.

In Hancock, Lionesses meet once a month and Lions meet twice a month.

Each group conducts periodic fundraising events to support local, district and international projects.

Stains-Ecker said her club runs bingo at the annual Hancock carnival, sells food at the Halloween Parade, apple dumplings at the C&O Canal Barge Bash and makes funnel cakes and has a baby contest at Canal Apple Days.

"We had a basket bingo recently and raised $4,000," she said.

With the funds raised, the club sponsors four scholarships a year, gives donations to the fire and ambulance companies, Hancock Girl Scouts, American Heart Association, diabetes research and a variety of vision projects.

She said she wishes more young women would get involved in the Lioness group.

Hill said the concerns are the same for the Lions Club, which has an aging membership.

"I've been a Lion for seven or eight years and I've never regretted it," said Hill, a retired teacher.

Activities include the leader dog program, sight conservation and diabetes awareness. "We just got a certificate from the Medical Eye Bank for our work with vision projects," Hill said.

Each year the 46-member Lions Club hosts a Christmas dinner. The first year, 1956, t28 people were served, he said. "Last Christmas, we served more than 600 meals," Hill said.

Stains-Ecker said the Lionesses chip in with desserts and help serve the meals.

Hill listed some of his club's projects, which include scholarships, the Battle of the Books, Hancock Historical Society, Hancock Little League teams, and donations to fire and rescue companies and the Interfaith Service Coalition.

"Our club operates a food bank on Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Hancock Community Center," he said. And there are blood drives and National Night Out events.

Fundraisers include Breakfast in the Park, monthly chicken barbecues, cash bonanzas and a golf tournament.

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